No legal basis to suspend Matona, 3 other Eskom execs, MPs told

Venete Klein, who used to serve on Eskom's board, told MPs that former chairperson Zola Tsotsi pushed for the four executives to be suspended.

FILE: Former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona at a media briefing in Johannesburg on 08 December 2014 on the state of South Africa's electricity system. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Eskom board's surprise decision to suspend four senior executives in March 2015 has come under sharp scrutiny in Parliament, with Members of Parliament (MPs) hearing there was no lawful reason to take action against the officials.

Eskom's credit rating was downgraded shortly after the parastatal's CEO Tshediso Matona and three other executives were asked to step aside amid a fact-finding inquiry.

The suspensions have been a recurring feature in the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into allegations of state capture at Eskom.

Venete Klein, who used to serve on Eskom's board, told MPs on Tuesday that former chairperson Zola Tsotsi pushed for the four executives to be suspended when others on the board weren't sure it was the right step.

“I must say the then chairman of the board was adamant that the four people would slow us down, and when pushed to say ‘what do you mean by that?’ he gave us examples.”

The inquiry's evidence leader Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara asked her if that led to the downgrade, to which she responded that it had.

“Is there any specific basis in law that you could say ‘this is why we had suspended these officials’?”

Klein responded: “No, advocate Vanara, I can’t.”

Klein insisted she supported the decision to suspend the four executives based on the information she had been given at the time.